That was the question I was asking myself for a long time. We had an Arcam Alpha 7 CD player for audio discs and a Sony DVP-715 for DVD. Did we really need both. Well the Sony was okay for DVD but it didn't have a DTS output and it's audio output left a lot to be desired. The Arcam, well it was fine to tell you the truth but we both listen a lot of music so we thought we could do with an upgrade. So what can the Arcam DV88 DVD player do that our existing set-up couldn't. Well on the face of it not a lot. However, it can play both audio and MP3s directly from CD-R or CD-RW and can output DTS (Digital Theatre System) to an external amplifier. Oh and it takes up one less shelf on the rack! :) In terms of performance though the new combined player blows the other two out of the water. The audio performance is equivalent to a £400 player so a little better than the old Alpha 7 on paper but playing our existing discs we are even now hearing stuff we haven't heard before on discs we have played many times. Plus there is the added bonus of being able to play CDRW discs with normal audio of MP3 encoded files created from the pc. This is great for compilations! Create a compilation on the pc, copy to CDRW and play. When you are bored with that, erase the disc and start the process again. Simple. The usual features of all cd players are also here such as Random play, Repeat and multi track programming. DVD playback again is a marked improvement over our old Sony player with the picture sharpness reaching a new level of detail not seen before. Colours are more vibrant and of course for discs encoded with DTS we can now enjoy what some people call the best in home cinema sound. The unit will output for the various types of TV available 4:3 and widescreen 16:9 as well as handling NTSC and PAL output from the various different regionalised discs. Multi-region is handled directly from the remote control by turning the player on,
opening the tray and pressing 1,1,1,1 and then a 0 followed by the number of the region you want i.e. 1 - US 2 - UK etc. I have had no problems with playing any discs from regions 0,1,2 and 4. Discs that use the RCE encoding are also no problem as you physically set the code for the region instead of having a chip for ALL regions. As a note you can also set the player to automatically change as well if you so wish. Physically the player comes in the standard black or a rather sleek looking silver colour but I suppose that is much dependent on taste. The display is green but can be dimmed or turned off altogether if you want. It has a variety of connectors such as SCART, Component video, RGB or S-Video which should cater for most peoples needs. Warranty is 2 years providing it has been purchased from an approved Arcam distributor and this covers both labour and parts. Not bad methinks :) Now this particular machine is not cheap. It is made by a reputable British company, who set out to make a machine that was equally as good in DVD as well as in audio. I for one think that they have achieved this, although at a price. The RRP is £999 but you may be able to pick it up for less, but make sure it's an approved dealer so you get the 2 years warranty!!